Friday, 30 December 2011

How?

How do you say goodbye to a year that has held you tenderly in a loving embrace? 

How do you kiss goodbye to the days and months that have shown you the better side of yourself?

How do you send away the time that has healed both your body and soul?

2011, I don't know how.  All I know is that I've loved you.  And that is sufficient for me.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Fin Novembre, Debut Decembre

This song is entitled "fin octobre, debut novembre" (end of october, beginning of november).

If you slide the months just a little, it becomes my song.


Because that's exactly how I felt at the end of november, beginning of december....

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Live on

Something strange happened yesterday. 

I received an email which should have put a smile on my face but instead I found myself brushing away hot tears.  After a long long time I experienced a sense of loss, something resembling bereavement.

For the good news inevitably meant the severing of a relationship that I thought had ended a long time ago.  

Human beings are wired to cope with such situations. Our minds shield our daily living from certain memories to enable us to live on, while hiding, in cookies and temp files, all those folders that contain pages of our lives we once lived but now cannot face. 

Unfortunately, there is no delete button or recycle bin for those memories.  So they linger in the graveyards of our minds and occasionally pop out to scare the hell out of us.

This morning I woke up much calmer.  More zen.  The corpses have once more been buried.  The skeletons are back in the closet.  The tears firmly held within their ducts.  The heart once again bolted behind iron bars.

Life goes on. I live on....with my growing hair and my silence.  My green water bottle and my dreams.  My pomegranates and my wonder....I live on.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Once upon a time I was rich...

Reading has been one of my hobbies forever it seems.  I like books, stories, words.  Reading made me rich.

But for the past 5 months or so, I have not read a single book!  No concentration.  No discipline.

Could it be that my own story has made all other stories irrelevant?

We all need to know our place in this life.  It took me a long time to find mine.  I looked for it in words strung like a beautiful necklace, in people that walked into and out of my life, in countries wide and far that swallowed me and spat me out.

Yes, once upon a time I was rich, roaming the vast expanses of faces, books and lands searching for my story.

Today, I know my story.  But Grace sold me into slavery. 

The story that I am is not mine.

The story, like the slave, belongs to Him.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Mistakes

I made 3 mistakes today.  In the midst of an otherwise perfect day.

One was that I mistakenly thought the piece of jewelly I was gifted was a necklace, when it fact it was one of the most beautiful tasbih (prayer beads) I have seen.  Mind you, it fully qualifies for jewellery...just not to be worn!  Thank you D&G :)

However, it was a mistake because it showed how far away I had drifted....lulled by the glitter of this life.  Lately, my thoughts are often occupied with the mundane, the materialistic, the superficial, the illusionary.  The filter that I thought would always be separating me from the rest of the world has, through neglect and temptations, been lifted, leaving me to mingle with the world.  That is dangerous.

The second mistake was earlier in the day when I talked more than I should.  My tongue said things that baffled my soul.  I regretted it of course.  But it was too late. The harm to me was already done.  I realise that sometimes the need to fill silences get me yapping awkwardly, saying all sorts of uncharacteristic things.  But it is not just that.  It is a need to fit in, to be worldly, to be normal.  I give out too much information, most of it quite unnecessary.  In so doing, I defiantly test boundaries, I play with fire, I tempt the devil.

The third mistake was later in the day when I allowed an old version of me to surface.  The impatience, the fault-finding, the curtness.  It was a mistake because it could have been avoided today.  All I had to do was find my way home and bow my head. 

I must be careful.  With my thoughts and my tongue, my eyes and my ears, my heart and my soul. 

I have already lost one life.  I cannot afford to lose the next one.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Cancer fatigue

Okay 2 blog posts in one night.  But it's for the record really. 

I am sure that what I am experiencing is Cancer Fatigue :(

I am exhausted. Constantly.  No amount of sugar or sleep seem to be helping.

As for the pain, I am avoiding thinking it is chronic. 

http://cancerhelp.cancerresearchuk.org/coping-with-cancer/coping-physically/fatigue/what-is-cancer-fatigue

It was good to have a name put on this state. 

Now, time for sleep.  Let's see what the fatigue-o-meter says tomorrow.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The challenge

The challenge, I believe, is to pay attention.  To both what is visible and what lies hidden.

Too often I get caught in only one of those 2 states and I end up with an incomplete picture, a half-finished puzzle.  This disturbs me terribly.

I am in pain tonight.  My back aches.  My head is heavy. My eyes sting. 

What am I missing?

Friday, 21 October 2011

Good and Better

I caught myself being impatient tonight...for something as simple as geography!

And the next thought that flashed through my brain was: how can you forget?

Indeed, how can I forget?  Forget that not so long ago, I was a better person.  More indulgent, more compassionate, more willing to give of myself.

The danger with thinking  that I am normal is precisely that: my normal self requires some serious fine-tuning.  Don't get me wrong!  On any given day, it is pretty much okay, except for the odd bits that annoy even my own self!  But hey, there is still some road to travel to perfection.

I believe the good is still very much here, but why settle for the good when I've had a taste of better?

Saturday, 15 October 2011

PHD signs...they are everywhere!

The signs that you are cured of PHD (post heartache disorder) are many.  One of them is that you look at the happy family picture on facebook and check out the woman and her clothes and jewellery and her cute sandals and her short haircut and...realise (quite late) that you barely noticed the man you once loved.

Another sign is that you scratch your head and ask youself: how the hell did you not see that they are made for each other?

Yet another sign is when you quickly thank facebook for allowing you to stalk old loves without feeling any sense of guilt or any qualms....afterall, FB was the one that suggested that I check out the ex's profile!

And finally, the ultimate PHD sign is that you pull out the Mere Brother Ki Dulhan CD and proceed to give yourself a perfectly brainless saturday night before sleeping peacefully....all without your heart skipping even half a beat.

PHD signs...they are everywhere I tell you!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Dying to live

I have the feeling that 2011 will go down as the year I discovered what it means to live well.

I have met so many people, felt so many emotions, understood so many things that all the previous years of my life seem faded in a faraway past.

Yes, 2011 is the year when "dying to live" makes complete sense to me :)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The trouble with being 35, female, single and post-treatment is that life is suddenly VERY clear.

I have no trouble saying NO.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Fear

This thing with cancer has not stopped to amaze me. 

Tonight, driving at 100 km/hr, I realised that one of the many many things cancer has done for me is to banish fear....the fear of the "rational" mind.  That insipid voice that tells you to be careful, to check, to cross-check, to look in the rearview mirror, to get into the crawler lane. That dull weight that lodges itself in your chest and makes you take short raspy breaths as if you had no right to large gulps of oxygen.

Fear is man's invisible enemy.  It can stand as tall as you are and be your own shadow.  It manhandles you and pins you to the ground instead of letting you run free and fly. It shows you the devil and makes you forget that the Almighty has blown His breath into you.

My darkest fears have been banished.  Alhamdulillah.  Chased away by the reality of cancer.  And inevitably, the reality of death.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Spare memory anyone?

I had a moment of something resembling panic a while ago.  Why?  Because, I could not, for the life of me, remember what the key to the door to the apartment I lived in in Washington DC looked like!!!

The train of thought that led me to the key in DC is not particularly relevant here.  It was just something to do with the convenience of keeping spare keys.  What is of significance is that I have absolutely no recollection of that key! I know for sure it was not the rectangular magnetic card type.  So I am assuming it must have been a regular key.  But, how exactly was the key? THIS.I.DO.NOT.REMEMBER.AT...ALL!!!

When I tell people that I am experiencing memory lapse issues, I am usually not taken very seriously.  In any case, I am renowned for hazy recollections of events and people where others experience crystal-clear photographic-quality reproductions.  Mind you, I have usually blamed this state of affairs on a missing, broken or faulty gene somewhere in my genetic inheritance or else on the excess of daydreaming I used to indulge in in my younger spring days!!  In any case, I am quite happy to label such episodes as my senior moments since I am closer to the senior range than the spring days...but I digress.

Coming back to the key thought, I felt quite uneasy not recalling something that I must have used a zillion times.  How come I do not remember it at all????  What's wrong with my memory?  Aren't my synapses gelling as they should?  What on earth happened to the connections in my brain?

Then, of course, follows the one word that silences ALL my thoughts: chemotherapy.

I am pretty sure the chemo busted through my skull and peed all over my already diminishing grey matter! I have only to look at my nails to realise how insidious and altering chemo can be.  And let me not get into the hair territory again! 

And I ask myself: if external manifestations of chemo are so drastic, what has it done to my finer linings?  Those nerve endings and capillaries and cells that were innocently going about their process of renewal only to be slapped down and trampled on by chemo?

And I immediately feel kinder to myself.  I tell me that the memory needs to be treated with compassion, understanding and TLC and that the lapses, in any case, are not that important. 

But, boy, as much as it is ok to forget certain things, it would be nice to actually remember a few others....like my key. 

Maybe someone needs to invent a spare memory!  Or if that is messing with God's handiwork, then at least devise a means of backing up existing human memory....just for convenience, you know.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Freedom

 I swear, the day you walk up to me, I will eat you with my eyes and my hands, my heart and my soul.

There is fire coursing through my veins, a lock sealing my lips, a fort guarding my heart.

Walk up to me. 

Walk with me.

Set me free.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Travel full circle

I want to travel.

The urge to travel often bites me like a bug....unexpectedly but with a viciousness that stings long after the urge was born.

I am currently afflicted with such an urge.

It's been too long since I've been off this lovely piece of earth called Mauritius. Two years since Kuala Lumpur, 3.5 years since Washington DC, an eternity since my last tryst with adventure.

The best memories I have of travelling are from March 2005, when I made a quick trip from the US to Mauritius for my mom's birthday.  At that time, I was between two chapters of my life...somewhat like a small footnote or a short introduction...neither here nor there.  What came before the trip was immaterial, what was to come after was disaster...

I wonder if I will ever feel the careless abandon I felt then.  Maybe yes...and if it takes a trip to experience it, boy, I am sooooooooo going away!!!

Because, you see, at the heart of all this is simply the hunch, right in my stomach, that somehow, I have come full circle. Alhamdulillah :)

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Hair, Scarf, Love...

So my hair is growing Alhamdulillah :) 

I can now walk bare headed at home in full sight of the parents, the sister and nephew. 

People are starting to speculate whether I'll go hijab-less after the hair grows back fully or whether I'll stick to my scarves.  The answer is...........wait and see.  I myself have yet to figure things out :)

I must say I have developed a fondness for the scarf.  I have quite a collection now...errrr, perhaps a good 25 to 30!  Many of them were gifts from close friends.

Which reminds me.  Tan, Dil, Din, Shal, Begum, Bea, Am, Ash...thank you. 

Thank you for the Andrea Bocelli CD, for the lovely fragrant flowers, for the superb stars on a circle necklace that I wear like a charm, for some Coco mademoiselle fragrance, for the unexpected sweet, for the sudden laughter, for the musing times, for the children, for the delicious company...for everything.

Thank you for your love.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

STOP

It is Thursday.  One more day before the oh-too-short weekend. 

Yet my body is screaming at me to STOP. 

I admit that since finishing radiotherapy, I have deliberately propelled myself into a routine that is crammed with activity (mental or physical or both) that leaves me contentedly exhausted each night.

It is as if I wanted to prove to myself that I can do it all...and do more...and do it better.

I know I must STOP.  Or at least slow down.

Whether life cruises at 100 miles an hour or crawls at a snail's pace, at the end of the day, what matters is this silly little feeling called happiness.  Happiness at just being alive.

Note to self:      Yes to moderation.  No to Overkill.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Don't you know?

I know you are there. 

I know you lie just behind that veil. 

Sometimes your perfume would waft on a cool breeze and pull my lips into a lazy smile.

Sometimes your scent would overwhelm me and wash my cheeks with tears.

You are young and strong, good and fierce. 

I am old and wise, patient and intense.

You are me but more advanced, more powerful.

I am you but more subdued, more present.

Where, oh where, have you been all this time?

Don't you know that I love you already?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Contrasts

These days, I am into pomegranates. 

This fruit of paradise is as much a delight for the tastebuds as it is for the eyes.  I love the way the small red fleshy seeds snuggle against each other in perfect symmetry.  What a beautiful creation of Allah Most High. Subhaan Allah.

These days, I am also into bluntness!   Under normal circumstances I am already not one to mince my words, but in these post-treatment days, armed with a false bravado and a high which I simply cannot explain, the tongue moves like a sword!!!

I get impatient, even annoyed when wavelengths don't line up. 

So, back to music it is. 


This is my current favourite.  The high pitch of Rahat's voice contrasts beautifully with the sad lyrics. Somewhat like pomegranates and bluntness!!!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

36

It is that time of year again, when the air is alive with fragrance, when the sun wakes up earlier than usual, when the heat likes to squeeze you close and hard.  It's summer time...almost.

Last summer was a turning point in my life.  Isn't it funny how a turning point is recognised only after turning past the point?  Anyhow, last summer marked the beginning of the end of my obsession.

Come to think of it, I have lived pretty much my entire life hopping from one obsession to another (I am gifted when it comes to developing fixations).

I am so glad it's all over....all of that was driving me nuts!  All those moments spent rearranging life the way I wanted it were silently bleeding me. 

There is a certain freedom with letting life be.  A touch of adventure too.

Let's see what this summer brings or where it takes me.

 I will be 36 IA this December.  36?  Really?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Times and wishes

We live in dangerous times....times when words are uttered only to manipulate, when hands are outstretched only to yank, when shiny new faces mask dark intentions, when truths are carefully hidden in concrete buildings while lies are broadcast naked in tattered rooms.

I am so tired suddenly.  Of this gimmick of a game, played unfairly, for cheaters to win.  I am so tired of these times.

I wish for a time and place, and a face and hands that hold truth in steadfastness.  Where silence is allowed to tell its story. 

I wish for you my love.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Pebbles......are what you get when you lose your marbles!!

So suddenly I am craving activity, busy-ness, discovery.  It is as if I am afflicted with a gluttony for living life LARGE. 

The wild Sagittarian in me is kicking to be let loose, to taste adventure, to devour time. I have these strange urges to try new things, to reach up and touch the sky.

Obviously I am losing my marbles! 

You see, for the first time in my life, I am seeing someone die of cancer.  If it is true that it saddens me, it is also true that it is not upsetting me.  How can I be upset when I see a rightful possession being returned to its Master? 

Isn't the body's cataclysmic disintegration meant to release a beautiful creation of this world: the human soul?

Yes, I am losing my marbles!

My body is greedilly clinging to creation while silently my soul is reaching out ... for the Creator.

(NB:  I had to re-edit this post!  Instead of writing "losing my marbles", I wrote "losing my pebbles"!!!  Proof enough that I AM losing my marbles!!!)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Irritated much?

My irritability is mightily irritating me!!!!

But hang on! There is a cure for that!

M.U.S.I.C






Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Life & Death

Tonight feels like the right time to revive this space. 

I am here tonight because I am edgy.  There is an excess of tension that is clinging to me like a cloying perfume.

I have so much to say, yet I am loathe to put it up here.

Life is happening....for some as they want it, for others as they never could have imagined it. 

Death is happening too...in Khala Z's receding flesh and her bright eyes.

Oh how transient we are!  How flimsy we are!  How painfully brittle are the houses of our souls!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Faith

If you have not noticed, I have spent the past couple of days experimenting with new backgrounds on Blogger only to come back to the green grass and blue sky one!  It seemed to work best with the text and all.

Anyhow, this space will be less active soon.  I shall be blogging here http://hardtalkislam.blogspot.com/  Yes, it is about Islam.  My Islam, if you will :) 

Ramadan starts on Tuesday IA.  Between last Ramadan and this one a LOT has happened.  Our little family boat got severely rocked but Alhamdulillah we seem to be in calmer waters :)

I will not cease to say it. And I am not the only one who says it: faith is something amazing.  We all say it.  By we, I mean every single person afflicted with cancer.  How do I know?

I conduct this little experiment everytime I go for radiotherapy.  See, in hospitals, you need to be armed with plenty of patience because the wait can be anything from 20 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes! So, while waiting, we talk.  And I make mental notes.

The drill goes something like this: make eye contact, initiate a conversation, inevitably it is about the when and where and how and what you did about your cancer, then speculate on how you might have got it (genetics/hormonal/food/lack of exercise, all of those factors, pure bad luck, yada yada), the absolute absolute wretchedness of chemotherapy, the relief of being done with torture, the comfort that science has progessed enough that there is now a treatment for this dreadful disease and finally, finally, with a sigh, acknowledge that it is only faith that has held you up through this ordeal. 

You then sit in silence savouring your faith.

All else may vary.  But at the end of it all there is faith.

Yes. Faith it is.

Just because






Friday, 29 July 2011

Shoes

I have new shoes from Amreeka!!!

I can die happy :)

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Tango

Sometimes, it takes someone else pushing you to realise that you can be more than what you are.  I pushed and shoved this morning.  In the afternoon, I got pushed and shoved :)

Truth is we all take turns at pulling someone up and being pulled up.  And this takes place constantly, continually.  It is a great silent dance we all participate in. 

So, I will not make excuses.  I will extend my hand for help when I need that little push up the hill .  And I will pull you when you extend yours to me from the bottom of the hill. 

The worst that can happen is I might strain a muscle or two.  And so can you.  The best that can happen is I get to dance happily on this stage called life.  And so do you. :)

All together, we tango beautifully.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Writemember

My head hurts tonight...but before I go to sleepland, let me writemember (yeah, I just invented the word!  It means write to remember) a few things.

1.  Within the cancer sorority, it is okay to ask direct questions about touchy subjects like baldness!  No one takes offense.  Comparison is allowed. And if you are confident enough, you can whip that wig/scarf off your head just to proudly show hair growth progress.  Discussing about constipation, nausea, missed periods, etc etc is like discussing shoes or clothes....It is completely natural!  Normal folks will never understand this.

2.  Seeing for real someone with just one boob is still a shock even though I have seen lots of pictures of women having had a mastectomy.  It is not easy on the eyes or the psyche.  Makes me glad I still have two!

3.  Radiotherapy with a male nurse is awkward!!!  There is something very unnatural about it, I feel.  Although why that should be the case is beyond my logic.  Afterall, all my doctors are male.  Could it be because the male in question was a young guy?  Mmmmm....something to analyse in more depth.

4.  I am having plenty of time for people-watching with my daily trips to work and the hospital.  And for introspection.  That latter part is not of much comfort lately.  I NEED to get out of myself for a while.  IA, soon.

5.  Dear God, why do I root for the underdog?  ALWAYS.  Why, oh why?  Yeah, I know.  I AM the underdog!  I am rooting for me...

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

My blog

I've recently found out that this blog has a purpose other than entertaining me each night!

Turns out, it is quite useful to just throw it on anyone who is wanting to "know what's up with me these days".  Kind of an introduction to my current life without me having to invest time, energy, words, etc in the process.

I realise that for some people it will come as a shock to read that I have cancer!  But hey, I HAVE cancer.  I say it or the blog says it...same thing.

So yeah, this blog is kind of my journal (although I warn you not to look too deep into what I say here or to think that what is here is ALL of me.  FYI, the really deep stuff, I have personally censored from this site.  There is another space for it and that shall remain anonymous).

Call it what you want...a blog, an online journal, a narcissist space, a personal marketing platform...whatever.  It is me under the lens of cancer :)

This is my blog.  Enjoy.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Rx - Beep Beep

I have been impressed today.  By a machine.

I am rarely wowed by things.  By nature, yes. By people, yes.  By feelings, yes.  But things? Very rarely.

Yet, as I laid on my back, chest completely bared to 2 male and 2 female nurses in the radiotherapy marking room, I was impressed by the machine measuring the volume of my breast!

It was precision work with lots of beeping, measurements, straight red lines across the ceiling and finally, marking on my skin of the area that will receive radiation. 

I initially thought radiotherapy would be on part of my left breast.  Turns out, it will be on the entire breast with even generous margins all around.  The area marked extends right to my collar bone and under my left arm.  A large surface, according to me.

But really, I am pleased.  Too many people have been telling me that I should have just had a mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy, that with Ca, it is best to remove the whole thing rather than bits of it.  So I am hoping radiation to the entire breast will take care of that issue. 

On a related note, I must say I felt a bit awkward being so exposed to male nurses.  It is okay to be barechested under anaesthesia or within the confines of a medical treatment room with ONE doctor (I am well at ease with the surgeon and now quite chummy with the onco).  But to be there in a room with male nurses discussing mundane stuff was....awkward. 

Nevermind.  Torture kept me clothed but stripped me of my feminity in so many ways.  Rx can see my breasts daily, just as long as it leaves the rest of me on the highway to ticking right!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

You and me

Your eyes trouble me.  Your situation worries me.  You remind me of me.

I am so imperfect.  If only you knew.  I am so broken.  If only you knew.

You will not know.  I am me and you are you.

The world is merciless.  It will write you off, as it will me.  Just because you are you and I am me. 

Let's make an effort.  Let's make it.

The world belongs to you, as it belongs to me.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

When teardrops forget...

"To cry over reality is good and right.  To cry over illusion is futile and wrong.  Or is it?  The trouble is, reality and illusion are so intertwined sometimes that even the teardrops forget why they are being expelled from this body." - Famously Anonymous

Between the high of yesterday and the low of today, over a million thoughts have swinged through my brain.  I feel overwhelmed with so much elation, splashes and sunshine.  Something went awfully awry somewhere.

I will blame it on the absent hormones in my body. Because explaining it any other way would demand that I look closely at myself.  And that, I must avoid doing at all costs.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Creases

Just like that, Mr Rahat Fateh Ali Khan's concert got cancelled.  What a bummer!!!

Thank God for the weekend getaway!!!  I am planning on walking, eating and watching a lovely pack of children have fun.

On another note, I am quite happy torture is over.  Walking into that room to have a blood test today got my stomach churning.  It is all so ridiculously psychological now....the whole cancer thing is more psy than physical these days. 

But really, I am immensely relieved that torture is over (anyone noticed how I refuse to use the C word here?)  The hospital will be seeing me every single day for the next 5 weeks (except on weekends) and although it is far from being my favourite hang-out place, I won't mind the daily visit.  It is something that will Insha Allah become routine soon enough.  As long as it is not torture, I shall be fine IA.

There is something else that is bugging me these days...pulling at the corners of my mind, even when I sleep.  I hate this! 

Another bummer.....hoping the sea breeze will iron out all these little creases in my existence!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Nutty pleasures and big ideas

So, just like that, I have spent a little fortune these past couple of weeks.  To please myself.  On food, clothes, Rahat tickets and now on a one-day get-away to smell some salt on the breeze.

I am alive.  And when one is alive, one does crazy nutty stuff.  Like I am doing these days.  Little insignificant things that fleetingly make me feel good but have hardly any lasting effects.

Life is really funny.  When I had the luxury of planning big, I was thinking small.  Now, with the notion of death that much closer, courtesy of Ca, I am having grand ideas occupying my thinking like a huge mahogany table would a stately dining room!

It really does not matter whether these big ideas get seeded and grow.  The very fact that I have them is a statement of some sort. 

So, yes, I will run after little nutty pleasures and big ideas.  Simply because I am alive. Alhamdulillah.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Something something.

I want to DO something.  Something small or something big.

Something that will revive my brain and my legs.  Yes, walk and talk.  Walk the talk.

Something that will get me out of the cocoon of my home, away from my lovely bed, out into the sunshine and the rain.

Something that will immerse me into something else other than me and cancer.

Something that will make my soul taste beauty and grace and abundance and tears and hearbreak and joy and laughter and hugs and cheese and chocolate and kisses.

Something new, edgy, risky.  Something good. 

Yes, I want to do something.  Something something.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Words running away...

When words run away, there is no point in chasing them. Something else will take their place. It is the law of substitution again.

I don't mind. My words are running away.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Taking sides

I am one of those people who takes sides.  I DO NOT sit on the fence.  I pick my camp.

And tonight, it was not difficult at all to pick which side I am on. 

I have few childhood memories.  My brain is just wired weirdly when it comes to memory.  Some things I remember with such stark clarity.  Others I do not recall, almost as if I never lived them. 

One of the things I remember is being a child who had not done well at CPE exams.  I felt dim.

Truth is, I am not dim.  No one really is.  We are all just different.  Beautifully so.

So, when a system puts the spotlight on you and instead of bringing out the sunshine in you, it makes you feel dim, you need to get out of it. 

Because at the end of the day, it is the spotlight that is dim.  It simply could not see your brightness.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sleep

My love,

Why do I resist you?  Why are you avoiding me?

Come back please.

I need you,
S

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

I like people

I must be about 3/4 of the way into this cancer journey now.  With only the Rx leg left, tonight feels like a good time for a mid-term assessment.

I remember starting this journey in Jan/Feb this year with at times frantic, panicky emotions and at other times romantic fantasy-filled notions of how I will handle it all.  

So how has it been?

It is no walk in the park people.  It is not fun.  It is not easy.  It is not terrible. It is just long and tiring.

But!  Yes, there is a but!  This is one fascinating life-changing journey.  It is doing what any calamity does to a soul: it gives it a new life. 

I could go into the one thousand and one ways of how I am a "changed" person, but that would require too much typing.  So I will take one example only.

I, Shafeenaaz, have come to like people :)

Yes, my allergy to homo sapiens has disappeared!  It may have taken me over 35 years, but finally, finally, I am learning to appreciate the power of human life.  Every SINGLE human life.

And for that, I am grateful to the One who is The Witness. :)

Opening Doors

Today, seeing a brother struggle to make sense of a world that is not his by choice, I was reminded again that faith is something quite complex.  It is not just belief or working righteousness or praying or being a good human being.

It is also accepting.  Taking the hard blows.  Right in your stomach. And NOT punch back.  Not even dodging the next punch.

Faith is when you need to close some doors on this earth.  Because only when some doors are closed here are those above opened for us.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Wilted Flower?

I feel like a wilted flower...or should I say wilted creature?  Because frankly I don't feel like a flower at all.    I have not felt remotely pretty in a long time now.  But I do feel wilted.  It is this flu.

I spent last night with such short breaths that today saw me consulting a lung specialist instead of enjoying the sunshine and landscapes of this little piece of paradise called Mauritius.

Now, there is nothing more reassuring than a doctor who is more worried about me than I myself am! He frowned a lot, peeked and poked at me a lot and sent me rushing for a chest Xray immediately.  Alhamdulillah the Xray was clear, but he thought long and hard before prescribing me some heavy antibiotics and 3 other little capsules which I am simply not bothering to know what they are supposed to do for my lungs. 

So all in all, we are thinking this is just a nasty flu, and nothing related to the cancer.  Incidentally, it struck me today that henceforth, any little big thing that my body does or does not do may or may not be related to cancer! That somewhere there may be a connection line between little manifestations here and there and Ca.  But I am trying not to think about it much. I am quite frankly tired of diseases/illness.   True enough, for the next 5 days I shall have to fight back the urge of vomitting at the sight of pills, but I have a good collection of happy thoughts to turn to for such times.  Alhamdulillah. 

It's all in the mind people.  It's all in the mind.  I have learnt to trick my thoughts.  To shift them, block them, replace them.   It is the law of substitution. It helps tremendously.

So tonight, it is loud pumping music in my earphones.  To drown out the other soulful sounds.  To get the wilted creature to perk up a bit :)

Friday, 8 July 2011

Breathing space

My PC is alive again.  I don't exactly know what went wrong or where, but it is working and that is all that matters.

My memory and my eyes are playing dirty tricks on me.  The memory is completly absent these days, while the eyes are apparently seeing ghosts from the past.  Nevermind.

This flu is really exhausting me.  I wish it would go away now.  It has been hugging me so tightly for the past couple of weeks that I am now suffocating!  What is worse is that it has stolen the fire in me.  I have no energy to gloriously celebrate the end of torture.  And I am getting tired of sounding like a frog. I need a break from this relationship.  Some breathing space. 

There are 2 new members in my cancer club. Both women about my age.  One of them is actually pregnant and undergoing chemotherapy. But she is a tough cookie....she is doing it all with panache and a nonchalance that I wish I had. 

So instead of moaning further, I will now pen off and read other blogs or stalk some friends on FB :)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

OMG!

I have just been re-gifted my words....from January 2005  (Thank you A).  And I am SHOCKED!

OH MY GOD!!!  Did I write all that?  Was it ME???  Which me?  Where is that me now?

Here's how my blogging started people:

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Beginning

Hi everyone

To start off, let me just reassure everyone....

I am your average citizen of the world with no criminal records, no mental records, no outstanding financial records but plenty of emotional records...of all kinds.....so I guess that makes me just a common mortal.

I am not sure how far i will take this blog but as an initial guess, I think you will find here a mix of thoughts, feelings, views on the world and also, my favourite topic of the moment, religion.

Now before anyone freaks out, please note that I am a liberal fun-loving moderate believer in whose life religion plays a stabilising factor...

So welcome everyone...and let's get talking.



I doubt that I will share more of my old posts here.  That person I used to be does not seem to be around anymore!   There really is no point in bringing back the dead!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Blogging self-destructively

I can already forsee a time when I will pull this blog down.....scrap it, or private it...whatever.

When I go through my own posts, I realise that there is a lot of me out there through this space.  Most days I am okay with it.  But tonight, it is annoying me.  Or is it the bad taste in my mouth that will not go away that is annoying me?  Or the fact that I woke up at noon today?  Or my inability to yank myself out of this lethargy and slow-mo life I am leading these days?  Go figure...

Anyway, what started out as an urge to write and a compulsive need to remember (later) has turned into a platform where close and not-so-close ones get to read my thoughts and emotions. 

I have personally invited some people to this space, who in the past I would never have let into my personal sphere....colleagues, friends, some family members, bosses, ex-bosses, exes in general.

When I look at my stats counter, I can identify those who read me on a regular basis based on their location. From Geneva to Doha, from USA to UK, from Dubai to Pakistan, from India to UAE, the East side of Mauritius to the West side, it is quite a few people who read me.  I am heartened.

But the trouble is blogging demands a fair amount of disclosure.  At least for me it does.  I am no writer.  I write only about what moves me.  In the end, it is just a collection of experiences,  mostly mine but occasionally a few extracted vicariously from the lives of those around me.

If I feel comfortable with what I write, I am sure a lot of folks think it is too much personal information out there.  Anyhow, for now, blogging is just an activity that keeps me entertained.  It is something to do.

But, I can feel it coming (annoyance is quite high tonight!)...the day when this space will disappear.  Like the other blog. 

Would pulling down my own words qualify as self-destructive behaviour?  I wonder...

Saturday, 2 July 2011

This July

I found it!!!  I found it!!!  I found it!!! 

My post-torture celebration.  Insha Allah it will be a night with Rahat Fateh Khan on 22 or 23rd July.  My ears can't wait.

To all of you who want to join in the celebrations, come meet me there.

And it is not just a one-off celebration!  I am eagerly awaiting an Andrea Bocelli CD (my French connections to get working on that!) and yes, new shoes at the end of the month!

This July seems goody-packed. Alhamdullilah  :)

Chemo No.6 - Drawing the line

The sign of a good day is when you close your eyes in peace at night.  I am about to surrender to that.

Today has been Alhamdulillah good.  It was my 6th and last chemo session.  Very nauseous but it'll pass.  Just a few more days.

All I know is that Insha Allah I am NEVER EVER going through chemo again.  I do not know what life has in store for me in the future.  But I DO know that I will not allow my future to include chemo.  No medical advice will convince me to go through this again.  My will will stand in the way.  

Like in all bad relationships, life brings you to a point where you need to draw the line. 

Tonight is where I draw the line with chemo.

Adieu Chemo.

Friday, 1 July 2011

News

News!!!! How tantalizing they are!!!  For some, it means a new beginning, for others a huge headache.  But the beauty of it really lies in the fact that no one, absolutely no one, can know whether it contains any good or bad in it for themselves.

I think news are gifts that come differently wrapped.  Some are crispy and shiny in appearance while others look dull and boring.  Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, only time has the ability to unwrap the gifts, sometimes to reveal pretty little things, at other times to release foul smelling odours that no one suspected were lurking underneath all the gloss and candy coloured paper!

Anyhow, today saw some news for some folks at work. Lots of excitement.

My news came from a sample of blood drawn by a needle.  My blood results are looking good, Alhamdulillah.  So Insha Allah, I will be undertaking my last chemo round tomorrow ( no, that is today 1st July)!!!!  I don't think I have been this excited at the idea of chemo! 

Soon, Insha Allah very soon, my hair will grow back.  And with it, I will reclaim every morsel of my self that has eluded me lately.  That is VERY exciting news. :)

Monday, 27 June 2011

Drop Dead Gorgeous

The touch of flu is now a full-blown infection that is trying to kill me!!!

I feel like I need to be quarantined, given the magnitude of this flu! Needless to say that I have kissed my dream of completing chemo this week goodbye.  I am not even thinking about it much.  I need to survive this flu first!

Isn't the body amazing?  It comes programmed to fight millions of attempts to get it down.  My body is usually pretty good at fighting the good fight, but this time, it is an uphill battle. 

I've tried coaxing my immune system into upgrading its software with all manners of infusions, pills, balms, etc, but it is being slow on the uptake! 

Wouldn't it be just ironic to drop dead from a flu when cancer hasn't killed me???

I don't want to die without hair!  I want to feel gorgeous when I turn stiff! 

Sunday, 26 June 2011

An excellent dancer

"Heart" is an excellent dancer.

Dancers have always fascinated me.  Not those jiggying to cheesy trashy pieces of noise, but those able to perfectly co-ordinate their feet, arms, posture and personality to the rhythm of a melody that elevates the soul.

I am not a good dancer.  I cannot dance to save my life. I wish I could.  I really do.

But I do try to move along with the music of life, although I think I am quite awkward at it.  Sometimes I move too fast. At other times, I falter in the steps, or I stumble. I fall out of sync with the tempo of life. I get tired easily too. I drag my feet, let my arms hang loose. The music inevitably carries on while I sit at the steps looking on, no more dancing, only watching.

But "Heart" dances right on, swirling with grace, lithe on her toes, nimble in her movements, a calm smile playing at the corners of her mouth.  No odd note can throw her off.  She is completely unfazed by life's high pitch or its low tone.  She moves like a swan, always busy, always working, yet poised like royalty, serene in her beauty.

Yes, "Heart" is an excellent dancer.  She dances to every tune of life.  And not only her life.  Sometimes she dances to the music of other people's lives too, including mine.

It is no coincidence that 5 months ago, she was the one who held me while I cried.  No coincidence at all.  No one else, I repeat, no one else, could have been in that place at that moment.  Not my mother, or father, or sister or any other friend or lover.  It had to be her.  Alhamdulillah for that.

Cancer had entered my life then.  But it was not mine only.  In so many ways, my carcinoma had infiltrated her life too.  Cancer may have chosen my left breast as a sleeping place, but it was "Heart"'s heart that it laid its head on.

I could (and probably should) write about those first initial days of cancer.  But not tonight.

Tonight, I want to write about dancing.  Because in those initial days,  "Heart" danced.  She moved swiftly, confidently, beautifully, sometimes with her shadow in tow, researching, learning, enquiring, listening, talking, providing, arranging, managing.  Not a bad back, lack of sleep, three monkeys waiting for her, missed meals, family depending on her, work calling for her stopped her.  Nothing stopped her.  She danced on.  And she is still dancing, effortlessly, tirelessly.

It's been 5 months now.  Thinking about it, I realise that I have really never been alone with my cancer.  My Merciful Lord knows that I could not have walked this path alone.  So He sent me a dance floor full of people to dance with me on this journey.  And dancing centre stage has and still is "Heart".  An excellent dancer.

How can I thank her? How do I even begin to thank her?

My Sweet Lord, please help me.  For I cannot find the means nor the words.  I really cannot.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Lemons

Remember that saying about life throwing you a lemon?

I just realised that I am very fond of lemons (Lemsip catapulted that thought into my brain just now)!!!! I love its tangy quality and its unmistakable flavour.

No wonder my life is such a movie! 

I really enjoy my lemons!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Lovely

What is this that I smell?  Is it madness? Hope? Strangely, I think it is a bit of both.  But it smells deliciously lovely.

In any case, I don't want to know.  I don't want to understand. 

I am done with reason.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Flush the Flu

Under normal circumstances, I am not overly concerned with a touch of flu.  I usually don't mind the feverishness of it, or the occasional cough or the aches and pains of my body. I can even make a mountain out of a molehill of a touch of flu by being sulky and wanting to be pampered with lots of tea and snacks.

But I have cancer!!!!  I cannot have infections!!!!  As this means that my body would need more time to recuperate and hence my chemo session may be postponed.  And that is something I DO NOT WANT.

The past week or so has seen me sternly admonishing myself that this last round of chemo WILL be done with courage and patience.  I want CHEMO TO BE OVER.

Please, Dear Lord, flush this flu out of me quickly.

PS: Yes, I am in a shouting mood :(

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Inevitable

It was inevitable.
I am in love.
Again.



















Heightened emotions

I measure the greatness of my day by the things I have managed to accomplish at the end of it.  Because every single day I wake up with about 4 or 5 things to do on top of the usual routine (yes, there is always pen and paper in my brain and I write a few lists and doodle plenty!!!). 

I set mysellf simple tasks like cleaning the bathroom, reading The Book, calling XYZ, calling on ABC, taking my solumag, sitting with the parents, contributing my two cents to obligations here and there, etc etc.

Simple enough.  Except that on some days I have no energy and need to postpone a few things. Or else I am so turned off by smells that approaching the bathroom or kitchen or any form of pill/medecine is a battle.  But on other days, I get everything done and even earn a little bonus in the form of adrenaline.

Today, Alhamdulillah, was one of the good days.  And I got my bonus.  It came in the form of a little chat with a gentleman in a dingy clammy restaurant.  A little reminder that moments change and that there really is no need to attach any label to the change.  To simply leave the good and bad tags out. 

I really like this perspective.  It is simple and true. 

This thing with cancer is really funny...because suddenly every little big thing is magnified tenfold, every emotion is heightened, every feeling is accentuated.  Beauty is more beautiful.  Pain is more painful. 

Maybe this is what life is really about.  Living each single moment with absolute intensity, complete ferocity.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Hugging Rumi

Americans hug.  It is one thing about them that I did not quite like when I was in the United States. Simply because I really don't like strangers touching me.  I am VERY particular about this. Shaking hands, kissing on the cheeks and patting the arm or back is fine with me.  But hugging is definitely a no-no.

So today when I got a very American hug from someone from America, I found myself almost in tears.  Boy!  A hug feels real good!!!  Maybe because it came from someone I like and think good about. 

The other highlight of my day was to be gifted Rumi's Mathnawi (the complete 6 volumes!!!).  I usually order books on Amazon and that one has been on my wish list for some time.  To receive as gift something that I myself wanted pleased me beyond words.  Now, if you know me, you would know that I hold anything sufi-related with a mixture of awe, reverence and absolute absolute thirst.  I used to drink up anything philosophical but I have discovered that not all philosophy is right.  So now I limit myself to mysticism mostly.  It quenches my thirst for learning.  The book is voluminous.  I MUST set time aside for Rumi.

Good things happen in bundles people.  Today was proof of that.  A good book, a big hug, and a couple of other stuff that can wait for a mention are more than I could have wished for.

Alhamdulillah.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Chocolate for the ears

There is a time for logic and reason. Then there is a time for beauty and music.

Tonight is for the latter.  Andrea Bocelli.  A voice out of this world. A blind beautiful man.

Bolero was introduced to me in Washington DC.  Chocolate for the ears :).

















Wednesday, 15 June 2011

As it should be

Have you noticed how life is a series of zigzags where eventually everything gets balanced out? How in glorious harmony the opposing forces of life are?

Last night, as we all sat around a table in the kitchen proferring endless counsels to a rather perceptive 7 year old, it was one of those Ah-haa moments when you are on a wave that is riding up.  Today, that same wave came crashing down when a silly conflict spurred tears and general morosity.  Of course it had to happen.  Any energy must be diffused, transformed, converted and re-used.  This fact is writ large in all of creation.

It was evident also today, when I noticed a couple cuddling in a seat on the bus.  A few stops later they got replaced by another couple that clearly having recently had a little tiff, preferred to stare in opposite directions.  Such is the push and pull of life.

The trick, I believe, is to know which wave you are riding. Is it one of those up ones or the down ones?  Sometimes, it may not even be clear whether the wave is pointing up or down or how far up/down you are on it.

But the great tragedy is that most of us, most of the time do not even feel the wave under our feet!  We do not feel the ground moving when we are perfectly still reading our newspapers and sipping a hot coffee!

Where does cancer fit in all this? 

Well, cancer is just a lens.  Just like religion.  Or any dogma.  Depending on how good your eyesight is, it either serves to enhance your vision or confuse your sight some more.  It brings certain things in sharp focus while blurring others.  It decides what you need to see better and what you should not see clearly.

With cancer, things change while they stay the same.  For me, it is mostly the small things that have changed. On many levels I am the same. I am still a twit (a blonde for my French friends).  I still believe in fairy tales or the power of chocolate or the absolute magic of children.

The difference lies elsewhere.  With cancer, I take in whatever wave I am on. I offer no resistance.  I yield to it, willingly, sometimes amusingly. 

The lens of cancer has exposed the undulating waves.  There is no mystery anymore.  Let the moment morph.  It is all in the bigger scheme of things.  As it should be.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

See me

Today I was looking at some pics of myself from last year.  I had hair. Quite long and straight.

I looked more human, less alien.

I want my hair back, my Allah.  Please fast forward time for me.  I want to have the freedom of not wearing a cap constantly.  I want to run my hand through strands of my hair. 

Before cancer, I had eyes but could not see.

Now, I can see.  And I want to see my self. 

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Happy and achy

Quiet happy day full of pancakes, good cheer and Rayyaan.  Alhamdulillah.

Am achy and tired. 

Goodnight.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Small step, huge leap

If you are Mauritian and enjoy poisson sale like I do, you would know that your nose picks up on the smell of it cooking from miles away and your tastebuds rejoice at its taste. 

So tonight when I ate and had absolutely no taste of it, I was a bit thrown.   Nevermind.

NOTHING is going to deflect me from the joy of knowing that my ovaries are still functioning and the fact that my onco today moved to the next step by referring me to the radiotherapist.

In this time warp where I am stuck, a little step forward feels like a huge leap ahead...ahead unto unknown territory, but hey, I'll take any small step that life is giving me.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

24 days

24 days left before 2nd July.

I MUST hang in there.  Because at the end of this phase I WILL CELEBRATE Insha Allah.

I don't know how just yet.  I also don't know why I should be celebrating when I will still have other phases of treatment left.  But the urge to celebrate the end of chemo is VERY strong.  The end of chemo feels like an achievement for which some form of reward is warranted. Maybe someone could give me a medal in July?  For surviving self-imposed torture or something. 

Because chemo is tough people.  It is tough in between the sessions when you feel normal for hours on end only to be blasted with a wave of fatigue or a sudden ache or an anxiety attack at the most unexpected moments.  It is tougher a few days before when you try to brace yourself for the onslaught while deep down you cower like a wounded animal.  It is toughest on the day itself and the few days that follow when your body is taken over by toxic chemicals and all you want to do is leave that body, but really there is nothing you can do about it except wait it out.

Chemo is tough, tougher and toughest all in and by itself. I can't wait for it to be over...

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Slap in the face

Have you ever been ripped off?  If you have, you would know that it is a very unpleasant feeling.

And I can imagine that being ripped off by an acquaintance, a close relative or an ex partner must be that unpleasant feeling multiplied a thousand times.

Because inevitably, when you have known/know someone, you expect a modicum of consideration....it is one of those unwritten rules in life.  You go the extra mile for them, cut them some slack, bend backwards a little and even cross certain barriers into non-kosher territory just to make sure they are well taken care of.

To have yourseld ripped off by someone you know is a slap in the face.  It is a betrayal of friendship or for that matter, any form of relationship.

If your business rips you of your humanity, even in the noblest of professions, you are doomed.  Because the curse echoing in a broken heart is mightier than all the money, power and glory you may possess.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Stop

Things I should STOP doing:

  • Resisting sleep
  • Sit for idle gossip
  • Wearing heels for too long
  • Redecorating a non existent space in my mind
  • Visiting Amazon.com

Monday, 6 June 2011

Pretending

One of the worst experiences in life is pretending not to know when you actually know.  But I agree.  Sometimes, it is best to pretend not to know when you know.

It is absolute torture to know that your partner is a cheater.  It may not necessarily be cheating with another human being.  It can take multiple forms.   Like gambling, booze, facebook, friends or any activity that has reached the level of addiction, so much so that it steals that person away from you.

To sit in their company knowing they long to be somewhere else, to share their bed knowing their brain holds images of someone/something else, to talk to them knowing they have not heard you, to look into their eyes only to see them glazed by a memory you have not shared, that is absolute torture.

Because, inevitably, it kills your soul.  You die a little each time you reach out to them and they move away, out of reach. 

So you pretend.  You pretend not to know that you have competition and that it won.  You pretend that it does not matter. 

Sometimes pretending that you don't know is all you can do to save your sanity.  Forget dignity, righteousness, justice.  You are fighting for your sanity.  And the only way to do it is by pretending.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

We are family

In the past 2 days, I've had 2 people tell me that their families are complicated.

In such circumstances, I tend to point out that all families are somewhat complicated.  Inevitably, the response is that their particular family is undoubtedly one of the most complicated ones.

ALL families are complicated.  That's a fact. 

Now, I have recently turned into a family advocate, complicated or otherwise.  In the past, I used to turn up my nose at anything remotely connected to family, be it gatherings, obligations or interventions.  My motto then was: run as far away from them as you can...and fast.

These days, I am more tolerant of family.  I can even derive pleasure from them.  And I actually love watching the dynamics of families. 

Sometimes, the smiles and laughs flow freely and the conversations are perky and crispy with family.  At other times, people sit next to each other in stony silence, refusing to acknowledge each other. At yet other times, the sparks fly openly, daggers are thrown at each other's heart and soul. It gets nasty and ugly. Civility is conveniently forgotten.

But when all said and done, I think families are somewhat cute.  They bring you enough craziness to keep you sane.  And enough troubles to keep you zen. 

Yes, we are family....a bunch of quirky nutcase folks thrown together in a haphazard way, for better or worse.  It is God's design.  His way to keep us real.  Who would be fool enough to challenge that??? 

Wish me luck with mine and I'll wish you luck with yours. :)

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Sakina

On days like today, I am reminded of how merciful the Creator is.  How He never forsakes.  How He always provides.  How close He always is.

Thank you my Allah.  For sakina.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Letting go...

How do I explain letting go?

Not the letting go of an idea, a dream, a heartache or an obsession. The letting go of the big things in life we all earn to do as we mature. Or if we don't, destiny will whip us so bad where it hurts most that we end up letting go anyway.

But the letting go of your grip on life.  The one we all hold onto with clenched fists even without us knowing it.  The letting go of the small things with the big ones.  The letting go of parts of your personality or habits which, if released, will make you free.  The letting go of assumptions and sometimes perceptions.  The letting go of your own standards.  The letting go of your own person so that you flow with life, as one beautiful fluid stream.

How do I explain this letting go?

How do I make you understand that opening your clenched fist just a little will NOT make you any less than who you are. 

Just believe me.  Let go and you will see. 

You are not important.  Life is.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Trading green for blue

Where I live, I hear birds chirping.  All day long, the distant traffic sounds are punctuated by shrill peels of their glorification of Allah.

There is also a constant cool breeze that runs through the house when the windows are open. I look out and see mountains and acres of greenery in the distance.

Then, why, oh dear Lord, why is my heart set on the sea?  Why is it that I crave the whisper of gently crashing waves?  Why do I wish for salt on the breeze?  Why do I want sunshine on my face?

Would I trade green for blue?

Oh yes. Definitely.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Music - Making love

There is birth and there is death.  In between, you keep trying.

The above is a thought from yesterday which I was too tired to post.  Today's nugget of wisdom has not yet happened.  May be it won't. Nevermind.

I am in shopping mode these days....I am spending money on trivialities when in reality I need to be seriously watching my purse.

I am also obsessively humming 3 very different pieces of music. The first one makes love to my ears like a sensual lover. The second one gives me goosebumps given its prayer-like qualities.  And the third is an explosion of sounds that reverberates in corners of my brain and shoots right down to my toes..a bit like how my tastebuds explose when eating pani puri.

Here's my music:



Thursday, 26 May 2011

Aching

I am aching tonight :( Especially my back and my arms.

I don't have the energy to cream up either.  My skin is very dry these days....to the point of even cracking. It'll have to wait. I really cannot be bothered.

Time for a painkiller and oblivion.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Down memory lane

I went down memory lane tonight.

I was looking for my original birth certificate when I stumbled upon a stack of old stuff. 

Now, I am not a very orderly person.  I do not have files labelled and papers double punched and neatly arranged in them.  My organization is limited to throwing what I consider important in one drawer and then hoping it is where I think it is when I need it!

Anyway...I fell on some old cards from M, some as old as December 2005!  And that threw me back into a time zone that no longer exists.

What a life it was!  What a different person I was then! And I wondered to what extent that person still exists in me now...

I also fell on tickets for a show (a gift from A).    And another piece of paper with his handwriting.  These are now in my wastepaper basket.

And the thought again floated in my head....maybe this business with cancer is just what I needed to unhook me from myself long enough for a new me to emerge.

And that is something that only time will tell...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

39 days

Letting time do its job today took the form of movie watching, wrapped in a red blanket. 

39 days more to go.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Then and Now

Had cancer struck me a decade ago, I would probably have gone nuts.  I was too immature, gullible and emotionally weak to handle it then.

Had cancer struck me two years ago, I would have been totally devastated. I did not have the perspective to understand where it was coming from.

Had cancer struck me a year ago, I would definitely have fallen apart in pieces.  My poor heart could not have handled the heartache.  It was already aching too much then.

Now? Now, I think I can handle it.  I have the perspective, the emotional stamina and the coldness of heart to weather the storm. Alhamdulillah.

All I have to do is sink with each engulfing wave of chemo and come up for air whenever I can. 

But, hell!!!  I'd gladly pass on the nausea!  It is torture at its finest! All it takes is one wayward thought and the torture begins...

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Looking Forward - 42 days

42 days. 

42 days to go till the end of chemo. 

Technically my last chemo date is 1st July 2011.  But since I feel utterly crappy the first two days, I've decided to add one more day to the ordeal.

I need to start this countdown NOW...to see the numbers dwindle. 

With each passing day, I will remind myself that the end is near.

The radiotherapy I'll tackle when I come to the Rx bridge.  For now, chemo is the enemy to overpower.

My Allah, please rush time for me.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Chemo No 4 - Dinner in a washbasin

It is not nice to see your dinner in your washbasin!

But after throwing up, Alhamdulillah, I get to temporarily forget my stomach.

I had a whole post written in my head for tonight.  But I am turning off the switch in my brain. 

Hoping to get through the night without a volcano bubbling in my stomach is ALL I wish for tonight.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Looking back

Tonight feels like the right time to look back. 

It all started on 16th January 2011.  I went for the breast exam package at AB Hospital after about a month of noticing the lump.  It was a sunny wednesday.  Right in the middle of the day.  The radiologist who did my sonomammography asked whether I felt the lump was cancer.

I said I don't know.  In fact, I knew the lump was trouble.  I knew right from the moment I felt it.  Nothing that hard and defined and totally painless could mean any good.

It's four months now. Four months. Three chemos.  Two surgeries. One fact: I have cancer.

I no longer cry over that one fact like I used to.  I still cry.  But not like I cried in late January.

Sometimes I wonder.  Do I have cancer cells somewhere in my body right now?  I think maybe, or yes.  Don't ask me why.  That's just what I think.

Four months, Dear God!!!  What a roller coaster ride of a life I am living!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

On being appreciated

No matter how old you are, there always resides in you the need to be appreciated.

You may think you've proved yourself enough, surpassed others, left your mark and generally grown into a mature, well-balanced adult capable of handling distance and avoidance, but it takes one little truth to expose the need to be valued in you.

That need is in all of us, even though we may deny it with our tongues and shrugs. And that's a good thing.

In this world of change, it is good to occasionally encounter naked solid facts. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

When less makes for more

Today, it was with relief that I heard my sister echo a sentiment that flitted through my brain yesterday.    

See, it is never easy to take a decision.  Especially if that decision is irreversible.  In many cases, you don't know whether you have made the right decision.  You convince yourself that you have and you move on. 

To have your decision confirmed as the right one is comforting.  It enables closure.

Yes, it is a strange thing to say, but sometimes less of you makes for more.

Monday, 16 May 2011

It's all about packaging

These days, cancer seems easy. 

Easy because somewhere, someone else is lying in a bed completely drugged up to numb pain of a magnitude that my disease has not inflicted on me.  Her disease is not cancer.  But in her case, it is worse than cancer.

According to my onco, my cancer has sat silently in my left breast without making itself seen or known for about a year.  And it likely would have stayed that way for months and months, if not years, before saying hello, probably to be followed by a quick adieu.

I guess what I am saying here is that my cancer is a silent stealth killer. There are other diseases that come differently packaged.  Some can be a loud pain in the bottom that rob you of so many sunny days of your life that you end up forgetting what sunshine feels like.

Each disease has its own ugliness.  When I think of those afflicted with Alzheimers, Multiple Sclerosis,  paralysis of some kind or other, etc., I am comforted by the thought that my illness is not debilitating. Alhamdulillah.

Sure it would be nice to be disease-less.  But of all the diseases I could be afflicted with, cancer is afterall not that bad. 

Now, that is a thought that I need to remember this coming Friday.  It would comfort me. 

Meanwhile, I hope and pray that she smiles, even through her pain and numerous painkillers, comforted with the thought that her packaging did not have a label that read cancer.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Free of All Needs, Worthy of All Praise

In Islam, you sing praises of Allah, the Almighty.  You sing with happiness and sadness, in easy and difficult times, with your lips and your hearbeats, alone and with others.

Today my mom sang Allah's praises with her tears.  She sobbed continuously, copiously, visibly, sat amongst all of us. 

Around the time of Eid last year, my mom started crying.  At that time, it alarmed me to see her cry. 

Today, seeing her cry, I was less alarmed.  See, my mom is sad.  In  fact, she has plenty to be sad about and she has all the good reasons for that too.  Reasons born of present circumstances, past events and future uncertainties. 

If a person has all the good reasons to be happy and is not  happy, something is not quite right.  In the same way, if a person has all the good reasons to be sad and is not sad, something is not quite right either.

Sadness is a profound emotion.  It takes courage and humility to be sad.  It is not an emotion you let in.    Sadness takes you in. 

So my mom cried.  She is sad.  That is as it should be. It is right. 

See, one of the absolute, sublime beauties of Islam is that the human condition does not matter.  What matters is whether you sing Allah's praises.

Allah, Most High, who is Ghaniyul Hamid.  The One free of all needs, worthy of all praise. May we sing Your Praises endlessly My Allah. Ameen.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Retail therapy or not?

Blogger spat my post back.

The chemo has not yet messed with my ovaries.

Cleaning house is one form of service to oneself that everyone should try.

I thought shopping would not interest me at this stage but Amazon is stealthily tempting me with watches and shoes daily via email!  My reluctance/resistance to indulge in some retail therapy is thinning quickly.

What should I do?

Friday, 13 May 2011

Blogger ate my post!

My last post was eaten by blogger!!!

I am VERY upset.

I am not writing until I figure out what to do!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The wind

Tonight was for comparing notes.  On all and sundry.

I am toooooo tired to blog about the whirlwind of a day that today has been.  But there is one thing I must absolutely remember.  That is regarding faith. 

In good times, it is easy to have faith.  Faith is that wind that keeps your boat floating on the waves in calm azure seas.  In clement weather, the wind blows like a child's kiss and your ship sails smoothly.

In bad times, it's sometimes less easy to have faith.  Unclement weather will see your boat rock. In fact it sometimes gets so rough out there that your boat gets tossed and slapped repeatedly, making you sick to your stomach.  You forget the wind, even though it is blowing and bellowing loudly.  You may even blame the wind.

But isn't it a fact that only the wind can bring a boat to safe shores or cause it to sink?  Isn't it a fact that the wind, invisible and untameable, is the only force that can pull your boat from tumultuous seas to calmer waters?  Isn't it a fact that without wind, a boat will be a deserted still vessel?

It would appear that the weather is rather unclement for us these days.  Our boat has been swaying and tilting much lately.

But I am counting on the wind.  To bring along a sweet little breeze after the storm.  A whisper so llight and flimsy that our boat will gently rock to sleep on its distant lullaby.  IA. :)

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Constipation, Cat, Call

Today has not been one of my better days. 

I woke up with tummy ache (probably a combination of constipation, impending/suspending periods and eating too much) which by mid afternoon had turned into a mild headache and total fatigue, with the consequence that I feel like a whale and I have been and still am in an awfully bad mood.

Also, I am having to breathe through my mouth to get enough air!  I really can't figure out what my body is doing today.

On the up side, the Cat called me this afternoon.  See, the moment I found out I had cancer, I had a list of people whom I had to inform about this.  He was obviously one of them.

In fact, the morning after my biopsy results confirmed the lump was malignant, I was in his office breaking news that I myself had difficulty grasping.  I guess one of the reasons I wanted to see him was because he is familiar with this disease.  And at that point in time, I was only a beginner in cancerish.  I badly needed a crash course on cancer.

Now, the Cat is a busy bee and when a busy bee takes time away from the beehive to check on me, I feel particularly good. 

And that's something I am learning to apply myself.  Towards others.

One quick sms, a one-line email or one phone call is sometimes all it takes to make someone feel good.

Ain't that just fabulous?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Tickle my brain

I want to watch a good movie. 

Something as brilliant as "Analyse This". 

Something so effing genius that it tickles my brain.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Indecency

Past a certain point, it becomes indecent to rule as if you are a king. 

Simply because you look ridiculous being all mighty and holy when in fact, you are no more than a frail piece of life that's hanging on to past imaginary glory.

Also because your kingdom no longer counts faithful soldiers standing in line for that glance/word of approval from the king.  That kingdom is now a fiefdom with warlords who specialise in covert operations complete with artful camouflage and guerilla techniques.  That kingdom is a snakepit.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Extraordinary

The sweetest, cutest moment of today was seeing Ouma and Matt dance for their audience. 

With carefully rehearsed steps, their own mise en scene and happiness shining in their eyes, they remined me that this life is indeed extraordinary. 

How else can you explain so much contrast and harmony?  So much of ALL that exists? 

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Alhamdulillah - Part III

Tan's sister is getting married this weekend.  Defining moment for the bride, groom and their families, but also for me!

I will remember this wedding as the one I attended while on cancer treatment.

A long time ago, I read on someone's blog a beautiful post on how you sometimes take your heartache/sorrow travelling just to see how the heartache/sorrow would "behave" next to old monuments, landmarks and other touristy sights and activities.

If I remember correctly, the post concluded with the realisation that wherever you go, whatever you do, you've somehow carried your heartache/sorrow with you all the way, a bit like that old baby blanket that you find yourself holding on to, even though you may be an adult with your own kids and cats.

I think somewhere deep down I was curious to know how I would react to going to a wedding with cancer. 

I can tell you it went just fine. Sure enough, my cancer kept me company but in a very docile way.  It let me enjoy the atmosphere, the people, the food, the conversations, the happiness all around. 

When I crashed for a nap in the afternoon, it was with a sense of satisfaction that I closed my eyes. 

I may have an artificial bun made out of fabric and no hair, I may wear heels and makeup that adequately mask the pain of a bad headache or fatigue, I may smile broadly to show you that your caring words and concern have touched my heart, but through it all, I am deeply content that I made it. 

I made it to the wedding.  To living a life as normal as humanly possible.  And for that, I say Alhamdulillah.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Silence

Here's how a person dies from cancer http://penmachine-bu.appspot.com/

Reading this has taken away my rant. 

Peace to all those who've departed this way. 

Knowing death is a few days/weeks away is something I have not known on this journey. 

No one can know unless they are there. 

We think, imagine, infer, but we wait our turns to know.

I don't know.  So I will keep silent.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

I hate you!

Amy, over at Babies or not, just blogged about hating chemo.  Funny that I too have intended to blog about hating since this morning.

I have been feeling this emotion for the past few days in fact. Hatred. It's not a mild dislike or an annoying displeasure. It's flaming red-hot HATRED.  An emotion so intense I don't think I've felt it often in my 35 years, if at all.  An emotion that makes my adrenaline flow with a vengence.  An emotion that might have very costly implications in the future!

Yes, I hate you!  By you, I mean my bathroom, my kitchen, my sofa, my bed, my bedsheets and pillowcases, my bag, my clothes, my mirror, my talcum powder, my creams, my facewash, my toothpaste, my fridge, my shower gel, my own body odour (yes, I can smell that too!), my laptop and the list is endless!

By you, I mean, all smells that I know and did not know I could know.

It's hard to describe really. All of a sudden, my nose is like a magnet, picking up on the minutest pieces of iron in this wide universe.   I smell things! And my synapses link all of those things directly to the hospital bed where I have chemo. And it makes want to barf.

I've tried cover ups with air fresheners, detergents, and other chemicals, but those make me ready to barf in fewer seconds! 

Lavender is something I hate with great intensity these days.  So please, if you wear lavender perfume, don't befriend me.  It's best for you, trust me.

Today, while chatting with OJM about this heightened sense of smell, we diverged onto intimacy issues.  Usually in hard times, the best thing to have is a supportive companion (spouse/boyfriend/partner/whatever). 

But let me tell you this.  With my nose as it is, I'm almost glad there is no man in the picture for me.   I am pretty sure I would have hated him too! 

The damage in terms of re-doing the house, my wardrobe, my entire self at the end of chemo may amount to a little forture, but at least with me, myself and I, I need not worry there would be any irreparable damage done to another poor soul.  Because, you see, with the level of hatred coursing through my veins, the potential for damage is very very high.